Tibetans Mark The Great Prayer

Tibetans Mark the Great Prayer Festival

Monlam, or the Great Prayer festival, is the most important prayer event for many Tibetan Buddhists. It begins after the Lunar New Year and lasts for up to two weeks across the ethnic Tibetan regions of Western China. Here, these photos from the Rongwo and Labrang Monasteries show the festival at its most beautiful.

Pilgrims and worshipers join prayers, teachings, and rituals at the monasteries of the Gelug, or Yellow Hat, school of Tibetan Buddhism to pray for long life, peace, and harmony. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Pilgrims and worshipers join prayers, teachings, and rituals at the monasteries of the Gelug, or Yellow Hat, school of Tibetan Buddhism to pray for long life, peace, and harmony. The Monlam festival was established in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat order. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The Monlam festival was established in 1409 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Yellow Hat order. The traditional Cham Dance is performed at the Rongwo Monastery in Tongren. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The traditional Cham Dance is performed at the Rongwo Monastery in Tongren. The Blessing Awaits Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The Blessing Awaits After the Dance Kevin Frayer/Getty Images After the Dance Tradition Meets Technology Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Tradition Meets Technology Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the largest outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the largest outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. An enormous scroll-painting or thangka is carried up the hill and unrolled as an offering to Buddha. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images An enormous scroll-painting or thangka is carried up the hill and unrolled as an offering to Buddha. Beyond the Rainbow Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Beyond the Rainbow The Great Unveiling Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The Great Unveiling The Sound of Buddhism Kevin Frayer/Getty Images The Sound of Buddhism Monlam was banned during the cultural revolution. Despite accusations since then of religious repression, China's atheist government claims that Tibetans are free to practice their beliefs and says several faiths are protected by the country's constitution. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images Monlam was banned during the cultural revolution. Despite accusations since then of religious repression, China's atheist government claims that Tibetans are free to practice their beliefs and says several faiths are protected by the country's constitution. However, followers of Tibetan Buddhism must adhere to restrictions imposed by a central government wary of the religion's politicization. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images However, followers of Tibetan Buddhism must adhere to restrictions imposed by a central government wary of the religion's politicization.